ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
The Tabor College women’s basketball team had the better part of a week to mull over the 17-point loss Sterling handed them Jan. 13.
Responding with a pair of emphatic wins over Bethel and Bethany, the Bluejays held their ground atop the conference standings.
“We’ve run the court very hard, and when we haven’t come up with a good opportunity that way, we’ve made good decisions with the basketball in our five-on-five sets,” head coach Rusty Allen said.
Bethel-With an 83-60 win over the Threshers on Saturday, Tabor improved to 9-1 in the KCAC.
It took all of 5:02 for the Bluejays to take a lead they would not surrender.
Emily Vogts scored Tabor’s first four points, but Marion native Brandi Peterie-Shipman hit a 2-point shot to give Bethel a 5-4 lead at 16:12.
Kirsten Watson drilled 3-pointers at 15:23 and 14:58, and the Bluejays were like butter-on a roll.
Watson’s second 3-point shot fed into a 15-4 run, and she connected on her third of the night with 7:17 to go in the half.
Tabor took a lead of 19 points when Stacie Herman hit a 3-pointer that made it 44-25 with 0:24 left in the half.
The second half opened with a 12-0 Tabor run sparked by a pair of Nicole Ellis free throws. Erin Runge capped the run with a 3-point play at 15:02 and the Bluejays led 56-29.
Runge scored and drew a foul from Hannah Blackburn for another 3-point play at 9:58.
The Tabor lead climbed as high as 34 down the stretch, and Allen got all of his players into the game.
Blackburn posted a game-high 20 points and Peterie-Shipman had 10 for Bethel.
Four Bluejays finished in double-digits: Nicole Ellis (17), Donya Anderson (15), Vogts (12) and Watson (12).
Ellis and Runge combined to go 9-for-9 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.
“It is not often you have two players not miss a shot all night,” Allen said. “They both had struggled the previous two games, but they came ready to play, and played fantastically.”
Ellis had made five of 18 shots in the previous three games.
Bethany-On Thursday at Lindsborg, Tabor put together a determined on the low block and blasted the Bethany Swedes with basket after basket in the lane.
Behind the post play of Emily Vogts and Donya Anderson, Tabor defeated the Swedes 64-48.
The Bluejays never trailed, but in the early going, Bethany made enough long-range 2- and 3-point shots to keep the game close.
Vogts and Anderson scored Tabor’s first 11 points. Erin Runge became the third Bluejay to score when her 2-pointer gave the visitors a 13-8 lead at 11:36.
Bethany replied with a pair of long 2-point jumpers, but Stephanie Silvas and Stacie Herman responded buckets 0:21 apart.
The burst broke into a 12-3 run in Tabor’s favor as Vogts, Anderson and Herman all scored again in rapid succession. Vogts capped the run at 3:37 and gave the Bluejays a 10-point lead.
Leading 31-21 at halftime, Tabor blew the game open at the beginning of the second period.
Anderson scored at 18:36, and the next three scores went to Herman: a layup, a short 2-pointer and a 3-point shot. By the time Herman’s spurt was over at 15:52, Tabor had a 19-point lead and Bethany was running on fumes. Herman finished with 11 points.
Once again, every Bluejay who dressed for the game got a chance for court time.
Anderson led Tabor with 16 points and Vogts finished with 13. Both forwards had nine rebounds. As a team, Tabor grabbed a decisive 42-24 rebounding advantage.
Bethany forward Trisha Dietz led all scorers with 17 points, including a 5-of-8 performance from beyond the arc.
Chelsea Malone, who missed time earlier this season with a shoulder injury, did not suit up for either of the week’s contests.
Coming-The Bluejays are set to play at McPherson on Thursday, with tip off set for 6 p.m. In a meeting on Dec. 2 in Hillsboro, Tabor got 19 points from Nicole Ellis and defeated the Bulldogs 86-53.
On Saturday, the University of Saint Mary will be in Hillsboro for a game scheduled for 5 p.m. The Bluejays defeated the Spires 77-41 earlier this year.